The Sharping Stone

Five poems are triggered by the discovery of a gift in mint condition lying forgotten in a drawer. The fourth piece identifies Heaney’s late father-in-law Thomas ‘Tommy’ Devlin and clues suggest that he is the centrepiece. Heaney zooms slowly in on the whetstone: from the furniture in which it was discovered (an apothecary’s chest of drawers), a quality piece (sweet cedar) of modest provenance (purchased second hand) to its specific location in a drawer (one of its weighty deep-sliding recesses). Therein the object itself (sharping stone) and recall of its original intended recipient who for the moment will remain anonymous (our gift to him). In mint condition (still in its wrapping paper). Too late to deliver now (Tommy has passed […]